EDITORIAL: Let Election Day turnout match early vote numbers

Election Day is Tuesday. Early voting ended Friday, and registered voters who didn’t cast their ballots during that period are encouraged to plan now to head to the polls on Tuesday.

Early turnout was heavy in the Rio Grande Valley, and we applaud those who already have helped make our democracy work. Let us hope Election Day participation is equally strong.

That isn’t assured, since a significant number of early voters surely took advantage of the early period and would have voted on Tuesday otherwise.

Polling places normally are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, allowing most people to vote on their way to work or on their way home. But if the only reasonable time one can make it to the precinct affects work, voters can talk to their supervisors; federal law prohibits employers from punishing people who voted during working hours.

To help voters, we are printing polling sites Tuesday. Voters are encouraged to check their precincts, since they sometimes change. This week’s location might not be the same as during the primaries earlier this year, since the Democratic and Republican parties held their primaries at separate locations.

Many people see this election as the most important in a long time, since it largely is a referendum on the validity of the 2016 presidential vote. Donald Trump’s victory inspired many people to protest the outcome. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of people took to the streets afterward to show their displeasure with the election results.

Yet it’s safe to assume that many of those protesters hadn’t bothered to vote; after all, scarcely more than 61 percent of registered Americans did so. Some say that people stayed home because they considered a Hillary Clinton victory inevitable, and if more people had voted the results would have been different.

We’ll never know, since those votes never were cast. This election gives voters a chance to do something about it. With all U.S. House and one-third of all Senate seats on the ballot, voters can either support President Trump by choosing candidates from his Republican Party, or put up roadblocks to his policies by voting for Democrats. Some ballots have other options, such as Libertarian or Green Party candidates.

Perhaps more important are the state and local seats on the ballot. Our daily lives are more directly affected by the many state laws and local ordinances than by those passed by Congress.

Voters are encouraged to talk to friends and family who can vote, and perhaps carpool to the polls in order to make the process easier — and to ensure that fewer people decide to bail out at the last minute. Casting that ballot probably will take much less time and effort than marching and protesting after the fact.

And it’s more effective.

Those who believe a higher turnout in 2016 might have brought different results should have learned their lesson; we hope they’ll be the first in line to make their preferences known on Election Day.